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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

KAUFMAN: Ranking misses mark on Milwaukee’s real appeal

Photo by Austin Anderson

Last week, Milwaukee was named one of the “6 U.S. Cities to Watch in 2017” by Conde Nast Traveler. Along with Milwaukee, the list included other lesser known, but newly-deemed “up-and-coming” cities, including Indianapolis and Detroit.

An outdated picture of the downtown skyline behind a residential area accompanies a brief description about why Milwaukee should be on everyone’s radar this year. However, I believe the shallow description of the city fails to deliver, making this ranking fairly arbitrary.

The blurb begins with listing how close in distance Milwaukee is from larger cities like Chicago and Minneapolis. The rest of the description includes the city’s most expensive restaurants and hotels, while briefly mentioning summer festivals and the art museum. The end result looks more like a paid advertisement for the five-star restaurants named than a genuine, authentic argument as to why Milwaukee is a unique place to visit and live.

I totally agree that Milwaukee is an underrated city and should be on more people’s radars. However, it’s not the gourmet restaurants and fanciest hotels that encapsulate the spirit of Milwaukee. This city truly shines when you dig a little deeper.

So, how should Milwaukee visitors this year really explore and enjoy the area? I suggest seeing a movie at the Oriental Theater or grabbing authentic Mexican food in Walker’s Point. Kayak up to Lakefront Brewery or spend an afternoon walking around Lake Park. The most genuine experiences in a new city are usually comprised of things the people from the city love to do.

As an avid Buzzfeed reader, after reading this “listicle” and feeling like the author didn’t do a good job selling readers on Milwaukee, I wondered how often my perception of things gets skewed by these sorts of rankings.

How can we even begin to compare cities? Why do so many readers, myself included, put trust into these lists? “6 U.S. Cities to Watch in 2017,” in particular, seems like a series of recycled Yelp reviews or to have been written by someone who has never been to Wisconsin. For me, this article only reaffirms the arbitrariness of these pieces.

Today, online rankings and curated lists bombard our social media sites. And I completely understand why: They are easy to write, even easier to read and entertaining. But we should not put too much stock into these subjective rankings because often they are riddled with bias and misinformation. Sure, it’s nice for a national travel magazine to give Milwaukee some recognition, but the information given is not indicative of what really makes our city so special.

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